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Author: LM Penner

Is Creativity a Generational thing?

creativity drawing books lead by example painting teaching generations Oct 27, 2021

Author: Leigh Penner


I've been sitting here thinking and trying to remember the first time I painted anything, but the truth is, I grew up in an artistic family. I don't remember a time when I didn't have a sketchbook or a dollar store set of watercolor paints and cheap paintbrushes on hand.

I do remember watching my dad paint. I remember him teaching me to paint a tree. I also remember the first tool I was given to improve as an artist. It was a book -- How to Draw Horses. This book was a hardcover edition with a blue dust jacket. I took it with me everywhere for years, and I can still picture that cover today.  

For a horse-crazy eight-year-old, that book was a bonanza. It used geometric shapes as a starting point for drawing. The face of the horse was a long rectangle, the body, rump, legs, and neck were all circles or ovals. Their geometric approach was a  technique that helped teach me about proportions. This was a great foundational tool that helped me sketch out the basics of the animal. Without How to Draw Horses, I never would have thought this up on my own.

As a youth, I spent hours turning abstract shapes into identifiable parts of horses. Once I had those shapes looking like horses, I would color them in as palominos, or bays, or paints. They also, of course, needed backgrounds to romp around, so I created hills and rivers and trees and mountains. I struggled with getting the hooves right, so I covered up by having my horses standing in long grass. I loved every creative moment. How to Draw Horses was as close as I can recall to the beginning of my artistic development. 

Being creative myself, I raised my children to find their own creative natures. The one most naturally inclined to creative endeavors is my eldest. This weekend, he came home and brought with him his iPad. He was using the program ProCreate to practice his art, and I was excited because I know that is the program Charla uses. Eric, my son, discovered it all on his own, and he let me try it out. My horse was cute enough, and then I went bold and colored it in bright pinks and oranges with some greens and purples, and then... erased. My ProCreate skills are not quite up to public scrutiny just yet! 

As an artist, you mainly do the work alone. You practice to improve. You generally do that alone, too. What I've learned, though, is we do have the power to influence others when they see us moving in our own creativity -- and give them space and encouragement to enjoy moving in theirs.

- Leigh


Image by Senjuti Kundu

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